Planer or Thickness Sander?

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Forum topic by DavidH posted 04-22-2008 08:46 PM 3717 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DavidH's profile


519 posts in 3920 days

04-22-2008 08:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question planer thickness sander drum sander

After reading some resent as well as older posts on shop built drum/thickness sanders I would like to conduct a quick poll…

If you could only have one for the primary purpose of dimensioning/flattening rough lumber which would it be a planer or a thickness sander and why?

Side Note: I tried to search the forums for a similar question.. if this has already been done please link me to the forum. Thanks.

-- David - Houston, Texas. (

15 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4166 days

#1 posted 04-22-2008 08:54 PM

It would have to be the planer. That is what is does.

A sander is for finish sanding/thicknessing or leveling surfaces such as panel and frame construction.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Lakey's profile


97 posts in 3950 days

#2 posted 04-22-2008 10:04 PM

Like Gary sez, the planer. Planers are for getting your lumber to the thickness you need in your project. They are not, however, for flattening lumber per se – one side needs to be flat before it goes through the planer. A thickness sander will take off smaller increments of stock, and sand the stock at the same time.

So if you are looking for the ONE tool to get your rough lumber to the correct thickness, it’s the planer!


-- "No Board Left Behind"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3999 days

#3 posted 04-22-2008 10:51 PM

Like Gary and Lakey say go with a planer.

You can flatten rough lumber but it is a challenge to do it this way. Gary has posted a blog of a sled that he uses to do stock wider than his jointer can handle.

Hope this helps.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4052 days

#4 posted 04-22-2008 11:27 PM

A sander will not really flatten a board. Just sand the surface. A planer is an essential tool in any woodshop but it doesn’t really do it’s job without its sister tool the jointer.

-- Happy woodworking!

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3922 days

#5 posted 04-22-2008 11:55 PM

I’ve used my sander to “plane” highly figured wood to thickness, but it was a time consuming job. The only reason I did it was to prevent the tear out you get from a planer. But if I had to choose, I would go with the planer. If you try using a sander as a planer all of the time, the amount of money you would spend on sand paper would pay for a planer fairly quickly.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3946 days

#6 posted 04-23-2008 12:04 AM


The planer is more for dimensioning while a drum sander is for removing finish or finish sanding and other tasks of the like. Some planers have a finishing speed also but on a drum sander you can’t remove a lot at all per pass. They do work on highly figured woods though but it will take awhile even with a very rough grit.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3976 days

#7 posted 04-23-2008 12:13 AM

Planer dimensions and sander finishes.. I would first get a jointer, then planer, then sander

-- making sawdust....

View gbvinc's profile


628 posts in 4124 days

#8 posted 04-23-2008 12:24 AM


View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3943 days

#9 posted 04-23-2008 01:46 AM


View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4070 days

#10 posted 04-23-2008 01:51 AM

I use the planer to quickly get me the required thickness and a drum sander to flatten and smooth the final board. If I had to choose, it would be the planer. I would really hate to take a 8/4 down to a 4/4 with a drum sander. It would take a long time.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View jcees's profile


1070 posts in 3976 days

#11 posted 04-23-2008 02:48 AM

Definitely the planer. As mentioned, the planer is for dimensioning and the sander is for finishing.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View DavidH's profile


519 posts in 3920 days

#12 posted 04-23-2008 03:13 AM

Thanks for the info everyone. I now better understand the difference between the uses for the two machines.

I think I am going to use the review by GaryK as well as others and pick up the delta 22-580

Thanks again everyone.

-- David - Houston, Texas. (

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 3891 days

#13 posted 04-23-2008 04:01 AM

Until a short time ago I didn’t own a planer or jointer, did all of that part by hand. The greatest joy I have ever felt with any tool I have ever used was the day I plugged my new planer up, and ran a board through it. When you’ve sanded and hand planed as many boards as I have, believe me you think you have died and gone to wood heaven. I would trade all my sanders for a planer, because once the board has been leveled with a planer you can hand sand with a little bit of effort with 220 grit and call the job done.

-- JJohn

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3930 days

#14 posted 04-24-2008 02:53 AM

I use the planer to get it very close to the final specs. Then I will run it thru the drum sander to smooth it out and leave a flat surface. So, for this I would say go for the planer.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 3885 days

#15 posted 04-24-2008 04:01 AM

Planer. You could do some of the same thing with a sander but it will take forever, cost a small fortune in sandpaper, generate much more dust, etc. The upside is that you wouldn’t get tearout but it’s usually better to just get close with a planer and do the last little bit with the sander if you’ve got teraout prone wood.

-- Use the fence Luke

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